Four A-10’s flew low over NFL Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on Monday. The Air Force has grounded the aviators while an investigation takes place.

Four Georgia-based jet pilots who buzzed NFL Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, are restricted from flight duty while the incident is reviewed, U.S. Air Force officials said. The A-10 “Warthogs” were participating in routine navigation training from Charlotte to Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Ga.

Under FAA regulations, planes flying over congested areas of a city are required to stay “1,000 feet above the highest obstacle.”

Looking at the video, it appears that at least one of the A-10’s was much lower than 1000 feet. Of course, an A-10 pilot’s flying comfort level is much lower than that–but probably not the general public’s or even the Panthers coach.
Panthers Coach Ron Rivera told reporters that he was surprised by the planes. “Oh yeah, we most certainly were caught off-guard. You kind of see everybody wondering what’s going on,” said Rivera. However, Rivera also said the flyover was “pretty awesome.”


“I really appreciated that. I like the fact that they waved at us as they went over,” said Rivera.

In this day and age, it is difficult to not have some sort of public pushback with flying low over populated areas–even if it was authorized by the FAA or approved by higher military headquarters. Social media is everywhere, everyone has a cell phone with a camera, and the general public cannot tell the difference between a routine flight or a rogue aviator.

“As professional airmen we take aviation safety very seriously,” Air Force colonel Thomas Kunkel said in a statement. “As we look into the circumstances of this incident we are working with the FAA to ensure both civil and military aviation instructions were complied with.”

Most older aviators have some sort of crazy story like this, but they were able to survive from a career standpoint. I am not so sure about this latest incident and any future ones. Let’s hope that if all the rules were followed and the A-10’s were under positive control from the FAA, the USAF will make the right call regarding the future career of these aviators.